7 months ago
Friday, November 18, 2005
Iceland's landscape is haunted by several holiday ogres and their offspring. Grýla and her mate Leppalúði are flesh-eating monsters who have thirteen children known as Jólasveinar or Yule Lads. The mischievous youngsters come down from the mountains, one by one, and visit homes beginning on December 12th. By Christmas Day, they've all arrived and, according to legend, have made life miserable for the inhabitants. Each Yule Lad has a specialty. For example, Meat Hooker steals the roast from the refrigerator, Door Slammer slams doors in the middle of the night and Window Peeper can be seen peeking through the curtains after the household has gone to bed.
In addition, for 13 days, if the children have been good, one of these lads will leave a gift in the children's shoes which are placed on the windowsill. If the children have been bad the lads leave a potato or other reminder that gifts are for good children.
The Jólasveinar start returning to the mountains on Christmas Day, one each day until the last one departs on January 6th.
Icelandic television goes off the air on Christmas Eve from 5 until 10 p.m. so that families can spend the time dining together followed by the opening of gifts.
Christmas Day, Jóladagur, and Boxing Day, Annar Jóladagur, bring on more feasting, visiting, and parties. The season ends on January 6 when bonfires burn the holiday refuse and fireworks are set off.
It sounds like a fun place to spend the holidays.